Acclaimed musical has made triumphant return to Queen’s

�Ten years have passed since acclaimed musical, Return to the Forbidden Planet, appeared on the stage at the Queen’s Theatre.

Bob Carlton, artistic director at the Queen’s, wrote the musical more than 30 years ago and now it’s back at the Billet Lane venue – still as relevant today as it was then.

Bob said: “Good shows don’t date. I wrote this in the ‘80s and set it in the ‘50s – and people seem to have liked it each time it’s staged.

“Some of our audiences will laugh at the more obscure parodies of Shakespeare.

Rock ‘n’ roll

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“Meanwhile, others love the classic songs – and these don’t date either. Today’s children are much more open to all sorts of different music, so they’ll definitely get the rock ‘n’ roll.”

Sci-fi fan Bob was inspired to write the musical after seeing film Forbidden Planet as a youngster.

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He said: “I remember that it had nicked the story of the The Tempest, so I started to write a space fiction stage show called Return to the Forbidden Planet. Then I realised Shakespeare said it better than me, so I nicked lots of stuff from the complete works!

“I have always loved B-movies. Sci-fi was a huge part of my generation, as was listening to the music of the 1950s and’60s.

“With Planet, I just put together three of the things I really liked – sci-fi B-movies, rock’n’roll and Shakespeare – and it worked.”

The musical eventually moved to the West End, where it would gain most of its popularity and acclaim, culminating in the musical winning an Olivier Award for Best Musical.

“I was never interested in writing a big West End hit. But Planet had a life of its own and I couldn’t really stop it,” Bob said.

Return to the Forbidden Planet also became an international success – the musical made its way to Australia, Japan and even Africa.

“I suppose Planet’s overall popularity is really down to, to quote Noel Coward, ‘the potency of cheap music!’ And you’ve got various well-established elements familiar to people around the world.

“The combination of everything may be what people find funny and interesting.”

When Bob became artistic director at the Queen’s, he took a production of the musical on a successful national tour between 2001 and 2002, ending at the West End.

Return to the Forbidden Planet’s reappearance at Queen’s Theatre marks a great time to celebrate the show.

This Queen’s Theatre production also features some of the original West End cast and crew (who have become established members of ...cut to the chase and favourites at Hornchurch over the years), along with a surprise cameo from another cult hero – Rocky Horror Show and Crystal Maze star Richard O’Brien.

The show runs at the theatre until September 22.

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